Price: $0.99    Score: 8/10    Category: Games

Kickin Momma needs herself a new necklace and she’s ready to drop kick her kids into a swarm of jewels to get it.

At least that’s the premise of this Popcap Peggle knockoff from Hothead Games. Peggle addicts will know exactly what to expect from Kickin Momma, but those new to the ricocheting jewel earning setup may not see the appeal (or point) immediately.

After all, there aren’t many games like Kickin Momma. The objective is to control the direction and power of how Momma kicks her kids into a bed of jewels so they gather up enough riches to go around Momma’s neck. Different jewels mean different things, but ultimately the kids have to collect a certain number of red sparkling gems before they can move on to the next level.

Without a solid tutorial to guide gamers through the beginning stages, it takes a bit to figure out the controls. The Kickin Momma worm dance animations and imaginary world graphics are absolutely beautiful, but before gamers can appreciate the fluid sound effects and rush of winning awards, they have to know one thing.

Although there is a direction pad on the lower left hand side of the screen that lets gamers control the trajectory of kicks in a painfully slow manner, it’s much easier to control the kick path by dragging your finger over the dotted trajectory line that archs away from Kickin Momma.

Figure that out and suddenly an entire world of gem collecting wonder opens up. The kids start flying one direction and then the next as they bounce off blue jewels and green trampoline seeming dots. Every gem has a different point value along the way, but the ultimate name of the game is to figure out how to bounce into as many things as possible (thereby earning more points) before your kid/ball falls through to the bottom basin of the screen.

At the end of each kick you’re rewarded points based on what you’ve collected, but the strategy comes in when objects that have been hit disappear, leaving more space for your kid to fall through with every new round. That, combined with solid graphics and jewel formations across 36 levels (spread across three different worlds with more to come), make for quite the gaming experience.

Hothead Games adds to the fun with the introduction of new gem types from extra point earners to spikes that destruct when hit. There’s also a dot that multiples into more flying kids, which is perhaps my favorite bonus in the batch. Add to that accessories players can earn and pay for with gems and you’ve got yourself a solid Peggle knockoff with enough upgrades to please both the addicts and the newbies.

The real fun comes with watching the points rack up as the kids collide back and forth somewhat unpredictably. Kickin Momma pushes just the right amounts of luck and strategy so that winning gems and earning more kids to boot with fire/high scores feels like something worth thoroughly enjoying.

Bottom Line: Kickin Momma plays like Popcap’s Peggle but earns its keep as a unique jewel collecting game that makes every point collecting kick feel like winning the jackpot.

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